RESEARCH PAPER
HEALTH EFFECTS OF EXPOSURE TO HERB DUST IN VALERIAN GROWING FARMERS
 
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1
Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
2
Department of Pneumonology, Oncology and Allergology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Marcin Golec   

Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
 
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2005;12(2):247–252
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ABSTRACT
The aim of the present study was to determine the health status of farmers cultivating valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) and occupationally exposed to dust from this plant. A group of 75 valerian growing farmers were examined. As a reference group, 50 urban dwellers, not exposed to any kind of organic dust were examined. All people were interviewed for the presence of work-related symptoms and subjected to physical and spirometric examinations. Skin prick tests were conducted with 4 microbial antigens associated with organic dust and 3 herbal extracts, precipitin tests with 12 microbial antigens and 4 herbal extracts and tests for specific inhibition of leukocyte migration with 4 microbial antigens. 30.7% of the valerian farmers reported occurrence of work–related symptoms. No significant differences were found between the spirometric values in the group of valerian farmers and the reference group. Valerian farmers showed a low frequency of positive skin reactions to all tested antigens (0-4.0%), not significantly greater compared to reference group. The frequency of positive precipitin reactions to the antigen of Gram-negative bacterium Pantoea agglomerans was very high in valerian farmers (45.5%) with 3-fold concentrated sera and significantly greater compared to the reference group (p<0.001). The positive precipitin response of valerian farmers to other microbial and herbal antigens was much lower or absent and did not show any difference compared to reference group. In the test for specific inhibition of leukocyte migration, the highest frequencies of positive reactions in valerian farmers were noted with Pantoea agglomerans and Saccharopolyspora rectivirgula (15.0% each), in both cases significantly greater compared to reference group (p<0.05). In conclusion, the farmers growing valerian showed a moderate frequency of work-related symptoms and low reactivity to most microbial and herbal allergens. They exhibited an increased immunologic response to Gram-negative bacterium Pantoea agglomerans which appears to be the most important risk factor associated with valerian dust.
eISSN:1898-2263
ISSN:1232-1966